By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Even a hat trick by McNary senior Paulo Reyes wasn’t enough to overcome the Tigard High School varsity soccer team in a playoff play-in game Tuesday, Oct. 27.
After a beleaguered end to the regular season, the McNary High School varsity soccer team’s postseason dreams rested on the outcome of the game. With the 5-4 loss, the Celts’ season comes to a close.
Celt forward Julian Villarreal cleaned up a free kick at the net early in the game to give McNary a 1-0 lead. In the eighth minute, Tigard knotted the game by slipping one past goalkeeper Sebastian Lopez, who had already made several saves at that point.
With 3:32 left in the half, Tigard was awarded a penalty kick and went up 2-1, and the teams went to halftime with the Tigers in the lead.
In the 42nd minute, Reyes scored his first goal of the night from about 20 yards out. He created mere inches of space between himself and a defender to get the shot off. Less than a minute later, Tigard retook the lead 3-2.
In the 64th minute, Celt Daniel Caballero was on the far left side of the field and passed the ball to Reyes, who had his back to the net. Reyes turned on a dime and scored his second goal of the night to make the score 3-3 with 15 minutes to play.
Three minutes later, the ball went out of bounds and Caballero put it back in play before the Tigers could reset their defense. Reyes grabbed the ball on the ground and lofted a scoring kick perfectly into the top left corner of the net.
Tigard tied the game again, 4-4, in the 69th minute. Despite a pair of one-on-one attempts, McNary couldn’t find the net before the final siren, sending the game to overtime. Lopez also came up with a pair of huge saves to keep the Tigers down.
In the first half of the 20-minute overtime, Tigard managed to trap the ball around McNary’s net and got off four shots before sending one home for the final score of the game.
McNary had two prime opportunities in the second half of overtime on well-placed free kicks by Bryan Keo but couldn’t capitalize on them.
Prior to the play-in, the Celtics managed to get a 3-1 win over Sprague High School in their final game of the regular Greater Valley Conference season.
Celt Luis Audelo said the team fared better, in part, due to the return of Reyes to the field. Reyes had been sidelined with injury for several games.
“We’d been playing like we had our backs to the wall for a while and this time we came out and attacked the ball,” Reyes said. “We got the early goal and that gave us more confidence.”
Sophomore Michael Reyes found the net first and Paulo followed shortly therafter on a penalty kick about 15 yards out from the net. Jose Vazquez put in the third Celtic goal in the game.
The Celts faced South Salem High School in a 6-0 loss Tuesday, Oct. 20.
After winning the Greater Valley Conference in 2014, the Celts looked to be setting up another run at the title early this season, but a series of confidence-shaking losses and ties ate away at those hopes. The troubles were compounded late in the season as injuries sidelined some of the team’s star players.
Audelo said there were still lessons to be learned no matter how the season unfurled.
“Despite the results, we have to stay persistent regardless of what happens. We can’t let the bad things stop us from doing our best,” he said.